London, Sep6 : India head coach Ravi Shastri has urged his side to be mentally strong going into the fifth Test at the Kia Oval, after England sealed a series victory with a 60-run win in Southampton.
Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane looked well set to bring home victory for the tourists as they battled stoically for a stand of 101 in the fourth innings, but a collapse ensured the hosts prevailed, with India losing seven wickets for 61 runs as Moeen Ali took four scalps to record nine for the match.
This failure to capitalise on a potentially match-winning situation is something which Shastri is keen to eradicate in the Indian ranks, an ICC report on Wednesday said. "I think you’ve got to get tough mentally. It’s being aware of being in a good position and then capitalising and not doing something silly to open the door for the opposition," he said.
"We have run teams close overseas, and we’ve competed, but now it’s not about just competing. We’ve got to complete games from here, and the endeavour is to learn, understand where you made the mistakes, take it head-on and try to correct it," Shastri said.
"The fact of the matter is that you had a chance. The scoreline says 3-1 which means India have lost the series. What the scoreline doesn’t say is India could have been 3-1 or the scoreline 2-2, and my team knows it. They would have hurt and rightly so after the last game but this is a team that will not throw in the towel. It will come out to compete and not to be on the first flight home, rest assured," he said.
Shastri was quick to point out how successful the current India side has been on its travels, despite it having misfired somewhat during this tour. "If you look at the last three years, we won nine matches overseas and three series. I can’t see any other Indian team in the last 15 or 20 years who had that sort of run in such a short time, and you had some great players playing in those series," he added.
"So, the promise is there, it’s just getting tougher mentally. You’ve got to hurt when you lose such matches but that’s when you look within, and come out with the right kind of answer, so you know how to combat such situations again and get past the finishing line. One day you will as long you believe," Shastri said.
Lastly, Shastri lauded Alistair Cook as the 'master-chef', paying tribute to England's legendary opening batsman who is set to retire from the international game upon the conclusion of the fifth Test. "I saw his first Test match, I saw him getting a hundred in Nagpur. He’s been one of England’’s greatest cricketers, there’s been no question about that. He always came cross as a mentally really tough bloke, a real tough cookie. As far as I’m concerned, there were times in his career when he batted where he did look the master chef when he was out in the middle," Shastri said.
"He might not go down as one of the best looking, fluent batsmen but my word, he was effective. Playing in these conditions for that length of time, when the ball does move and it's a challenge for an opening batsman, I think he has been simply outstanding and good luck to him when he finishes," he added. (UNI)